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September 09, 2004

Love Thy Students?

A survey has revealed a basic difference in teaching approach between Japanese and non-Japanese teachers in Japan. The survey of 61 Japanese teachers and 81 teachers from 27 countries worldwide was carried out between May 2003 and March 2004 by the Chuo Institute for Educational Research and examined variations in the student-teacher relationship. Japanese teachers placed importance on "student effort," while non-Japanese focused more on "communication." The greatest divergence was seen in how teachers elicit answers from students. While non-Japanese tend to choose students who raise their hand, make eye contact, are sleeping or making noise, Japanese teachers tend to favor a more fair, random or systematic selection process. When asked what they thought was the most important thing in education, the most popular answer among Japanese teachers was "love." Among non-Japanese it was "communication." Researchers concluded that the Japanese teachers see themselves as role models who must lead their students towards a love of learning; while teachers from abroad, aware of the cultural differences with their students, focus more on clearly defined behaviour and responsibilities and on conveying information.

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